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Courts and Crime


Former Ohio lawmaker Luckie admits he stole from his campaign fund
Dayton-area Democrat Clayton Luckie pleaded guilty to spending campaign money on personal expenses in a deal that includes three years in prison
by WKSU's STATEHOUSE BUREAU CHIEF KAREN KASLER


Reporter
Karen Kasler
 
Dayton area Democrat Clayton Luckie pleaded guilty to 8 charges of ethics violations and was sentenced to three years in prison. Luckie will also have to pay back to the state nearly $12,000.
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For the second time in about six months, a former state representative is headed to prison for ethics problems. Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler reports.

Karen Kasler - Luckie pleads guilty

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A few hours after his trial was set to begin on 50 charges including money laundering, forgery, tampering with evidence and grand theft, former state Rep. Clayton Luckie struck a deal. The Dayton-area Democrat pleaded guilty to eight charges, seven of them felonies.

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien agreed to a three-year sentence, though Luckie could have gotten more than 10 years. O’Brien accused Luckie of skimming as much as $150,000 from his campaign fund over six years.

“There were withdrawals from places like casinos, debit account purchases previously mentioned, there were wire transfers.”

Covering his tracks
O’Brien says Luckie’s forms included fake invoices and hotel receipts, and expenditures that should have been reported but weren’t.

Luckie will also have to pay back to the state nearly $12,000, the salary he received from the time he was indicted in October until his term ended in December. Luckie did not seek re-election, but would not resign after he was indicted.

Before he was sentenced, Luckie told Judge John Bender that he wanted to apologize to his constituents and his extended family for what he called his errors in judgment. He also said he’d spread himself too thin.

Human failings
“I’d tell them that I’m human, and I have fallen short in this instance. And I’d like to apologize to the court and the state of Ohio, and especially my colleagues at the Statehouse. ... I do take full responsibility for my actions.”

Luckie’s lawyer, Lloyd Pierre-Loui, says Luckie now knows he was wrong.
“The issues weren’t that he was in his mind intentionally dipping into the campaign account for purposes of stealing. This was an issue where, in his view, he had certain rights, he had certain opportunities to spend properly and those unfortunately were co-mingled at times.”

Luckie is to report for prison on March 18, and could try for early release as early as six months into his sentence.

This is the second time in a year that a state representative has gone from the Statehouse to prison. Former Columbus Rep. Carlton Weddington, also a Democrat, admitted accepting all-expense paid trips as bribes to
introduce legislation.

Prosecutor O’Brien says any  lawmakers who aren’t following the rules should take notice. 
“I think the message it sends i,s whether you’re stealing from your campaign fund as Mr. Luckie was doing, or whether you’re taking bribes as Mr. Weddington was doing,  eventually you’ll be caught and there will be serious sanctions.”

O’Brien says campaign finance reports are filed on the honor system, so there’s no way to tell how often something like this might be happening among elected officials. The FBI stumbled on Luckie’s ethics forms during an investigation into a payday-lending bill at the Statehouse.

O’Brien wouldn’t talk further about the FBI investigation, but said part of the plea deal includes Luckie’s cooperation with federal agents. Weddington had also been interviewed by the FBI before he started his three-year prison sentence.

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